Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

RSS Subscribe By Mail UNC Social Media Statement

Viewing entries by Lisa Gregory

2018’s Most Popular Items on

Today we’re taking a look at the most-viewed items on for 2018. Yearbooks and newspapers are the most populous and popular items on our site, so it’s no surprise that they took four of the five slots. What rose to the top and why? Take a look below.

#1 Pertelote Yearbook, 1981

Contributing Institution: Brevard College

This year our most viewed single item on DigitalNC was the 1981 Pertelote yearbook from Brevard College.

The Pertelote was popular due to the apprehension of a mailbombing suspect in October of this year and his ties to several North Carolina schools. Cesar Sayoc was a student at Brevard College in the 1980s and his photograph can be found in several locations within the 1981 yearbook, including this club photo from page 134.

A group photo of ten members of the Brevard College Canterbury Club

#2 The Outer Banks Fisherman

Contributing Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

On a lighter note, the second most popular item on our site was a film from the early 1980s entitled “The Outer Banks Fisherman.” It features Freshwater Bass Champion Roland Martin fishing on the Outer Banks. This film had a few particular days of internet popularity when it was mentioned on a couple of North Carolina hunting and fishing forums.

Man in a yellow slicker fishing on the beach, smoking a pipe

#3 North Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot Newspaper, December 8, 1941

Contributing Institution: Wilkes County Public Library

The third most popular single item on DigitalNC was the December 8, 1941 issue of the North Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot newspaper. You can tell from this striking headline that it was published the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. This paper generally received referrals via Google all year, but we’re not sure which search terms were leading users to this page so consistently.

#4 The Franklin Press and Highlands Maconian Newspaper, April 23, 1953, page 9

Contributing Institution: Fontana Regional Library

Many of our referrals come from Facebook, and that was the case with this fourth most popular item. It was featured in the Facebook Group “You May Be From Franklin NC If…” The original poster stated that Group members had looked for photos of the Old County Home over the years, and that they had recently uncovered this newspaper page which includes pictures of the Home’s state in 1953. Top half of the april 23 1953 Franklin Press and Highlands Maconian, page 9

#5 The Daily Tar Heel Newspaper, September 2, 1986

Contributing Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Facebook sharing also boosted this item’s rating, after the UNC-Chapel Hill University Archives asked for memories of the legal drinking age being raised to 21 in 1986 and the “send-0ff” on Franklin Street before the law came into effect. They shared a quote from a police officer as well as a link to the article below, which documents the damage and disgruntlement caused by the downtown party.

Top half of Daily Tar Heel front page from September 2, 1986, with photo of crowd on Franklin Street at night


Thanks for coming on our tour of the top DigitalNC items from this year. For the curious, we topped 4 million pageviews and 400K users in 2018! We’re looking forward to working with partners to share even more of North Carolina’s cultural heritage in 2019. 

Microfilmed Newspaper Nominations Selected for Digitization, 2019

Back in August, we announced our annual call for microfilmed newspaper digitization. We asked institutions throughout North Carolina to nominate papers they’d like to see added to DigitalNC. As it is every year, it was an incredibly tough choice – we are typically able to choose between 40-60 reels out of hundreds or thousands nominated. This year we’ve chosen the following titles and years.

Title Years Nominating Institution
Carolinian (Raleigh) 1946-1959 Olivia Raney Local History Library
Chatham Record (Pittsboro) 1923-1930 Chatham County Libraries
Chowan Herald (Edenton) 1934-1956 Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library
Concord Times 1923-1927 Cabarrus County Public Library
Goldsboro News 1922-1927 Wayne County Public Library
Yancey Record / Journal 1936-1977 AMY Regional Library System

For our selection criteria, we prioritize newspapers that document underrepresented communities, new titles, papers that come from a county that currently has little representation on DigitalNC, and papers nominated by new partners. After selection, we ask the partners to secure permission for digitization and, if that’s successful, they make it into the final list above.

We hope to have these titles coming online in mid-2019. If your title didn’t make it this year don’t despair! We welcome repeat submissions, and plan on sending out another call in Fall 2019. 

Beer History in North Carolina Newspapers

Advertising for alcoholic beverages is far from new – ads promoting the perceived benefits and refreshment of beer go back quite a ways. In honor of National Drink Beer Day, we bring you beer trivia and ads from North Carolina newspapers. Raise a glass and enjoy!

  • They were importing London Lager to North Carolina as early as 1801. From the Wilmington Gazette
  • Go local! This 1860 ad is for a well-known area brewery, the Menzler brewery, near Charlotte. From the Western Democrat.
  • The Menzler brewery wanted to cater your party – 30 gallons available! From the Western Democrat.
  • 1888 saw 6 breweries erected in North Carolina. From the Wilson Advance.
  • This 1906 beer advertisement promises good health if you drink their pure beer. From the Hickory Democrat.
  • In 1936 beer ads were still promising health benefits – Schlitz is a glass of sunshine with Vitamin D. From The Enterprise.
  • Prohibitionists often used newspapers to persuade the public, like they did with this ad from the 1940s calling on voters to reject legalization of alcohol sales in Jackson County. From The Sylva Herald.
  • Promising comfort during outdoor adventures, legal sale of beer was deemed as the progressive standpoint in this 1961 ad. From The Duplin Times.

Labor Day in North Carolina

In 1894, Congress passed into federal law the national observance of Labor Day, a day of “rest and recreation” for the “laboring man” to reinforce his “honorable as well as useful place in the body politic.” Twenty-three states (North Carolina not among them) had already been celebrating a “labor day” in the years preceding 1894, and the tradition garnered enough Congressional attention to rise to the level of a federal holiday.

Because this tradition wasn’t broadly adopted in North Carolina until it became a federal holiday, most mentions in the state’s newspapers preceding 1894 report on other states’ celebrations like this clipping from the September 5, 1888 Daily Review out of Wilmington which warns of “red-handed and black-hearted Anarchists.”

"Monday was Labor Day in the North, East, and West."

From the Wilmington NC Daily Review

While we don’t see them as much today, parades were a near requirement of early Labor Days, with labor organizations creating floats and marching in celebration. The closing of businesses and a rest from all kinds of work were also a requirement. When North Carolina newspapers start mentioning the observance of Labor Day, there’s another recurring theme: Barbecue. One of the earliest examples we could locate, from 1907, talks about “a big barbecue and brunswick stew” served up at the fairgrounds in Raleigh.

From the Smithfield Herald

Barbecue (frequently FREE barbecue) continues to be mentioned as part of the main event. In 1912 Spencer had a “big barbecue” and a “big parade,” along with games, races, fireworks, and “a demonstration in motor plowing.”

Newspaper clipping about Labor Day celebrations in 1912

From the Mebane Leader

We hope you’re celebrating Labor Day by resting from work and enjoying delicious barbecue or the North Carolina delicacy of your choice!

Newspaper clipping of an advertisement for a Labor Day Barbecue

Call for Nominations – North Carolina Newspaper Digitization, 2018

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

It’s time to announce our annual round of microfilmed newspaper digitization! As in previous years, we’re asking cultural heritage institutions in the state to nominate papers from their communities to be digitized. We’re especially interested in:

  • newspapers published 1923 or later,
  • newspapers that are not currently available in digital form elsewhere online, and/or
  • newspapers covering underrepresented regions or communities.

If you’re interested in nominating a paper and you work at a cultural heritage institution that qualifies as a partner, here’s what to do:

  • Check out our criteria for selecting newspapers, listed below.
  • Verify that the newspaper you’d like to see digitized exists on microfilm. Email us ( if you’re not sure.
  • Send us an email with the name of the newspaper you would like to nominate, along with the priority years you’re interested in seeing online. Please talk briefly about how the paper and your institution meet the criteria below.
  • Be prepared to talk with the local rights holder(s) to gain written permission to digitize the paper and share it online. We can give you advice on this part, if needed.

Nominations will be taken through the end of 2018. However, don’t wait! We typically get many more requests than we can accommodate. Please contact us at or 919-962-4836 with any questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Criteria for Selecting Newspapers to Digitize from Microfilm

Titles to be digitized will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Does the newspaper document traditionally underrepresented regions or communities?
  • Does the newspaper include significant coverage of the local community?
  • Does the newspaper come from an area of the state that has little representation on DigitalNC? (Titles that have not previously been digitized will be given priority.)
  • Are the images of the pages on microfilm legible, or are there significant sections where it is difficult to read the text?
  • Is the institution willing to obtain permission from the current publisher or rights holder(s) to digitize older issues and make them freely available online?
  • If the newspaper is digitized, will the nominating library promote the digital project through programs and announcements?

Changes Coming to

Towards the end of this year, you’ll be seeing some changes on We’re in the process of migrating out of the software that supports the parts of our site that look like this:

Search results page for a CONTENTdm search for "lumber mill."

and this:

Photograph of a Haywood County lumber mill with title and subject terms.

After years of investigation, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve chosen to migrate DigitalNC’s collections to TIND Digital Archive. TIND is an official CERN spin-off providing library management systems, digital preservation, and research data management solutions based on CERN open source software (Invenio).

Blue text on white background, spelling TINDWhat does this mean for users? The current site will remain active and available right up until we switch everything over. However, until the migration is complete, newspapers will be the items most frequently added to DigitalNC (newspapers live in a different system).

TIND addresses some of the biggest areas for improvement identified through surveys and by looking at years of feedback. Those are:

  • Faster response time for searches and viewing items,
  • More relevant search results,
  • Easier to page through multi-page items,
  • Files that are easier to find and download, and
  • Full text search across ALL yearbooks.

Our partner institutions are already in the loop about the migration. We will give users a chance to preview the new site (or at least extensive screenshots) before we switch everything over. Before we change anything, we’ll give you a heads up via posts to this blog and social media outlets as well as banners on our website. So watch this space in the coming months for updates!

If you manage your own digital collections and would like more technical details related to the migration or information about why we have chosen TIND, just contact us.

Feel Good Friday: Partners, Colleagues, and Fans Talk About the Digital Heritage Center’s Impact

We’re sending out gratitude to all of our partners, colleagues, and fans, who helped celebrate our selection as a National Medal for Museum and Library Service finalist. We’ve pulled together all of the stories in blog posts, and a selection of tweets are showcased below.

Medal winners will be announced in late April. Regardless of outcome, we’re part of a strong community and look forward to more partnerships, collaborations, and creative ideas that increase access to North Carolina’s cultural heritage.


Partners Share Their Stories: Watauga County Public Library in Boone

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Ross Cooper, Adult Services and Reference Librarian at Watauga County Public Library. We’ve worked with Watauga County Public Library to digitize a wide variety of photographs from their “Historic Boone” collection. They have steadily increased their local capacity for digitization and now make collections available to a broader audience at Digital Watauga.

Close up of around 30 boys and girls of elementary school age in a group, all facing the camera

Boone Elementary School Students, 1913 (Detail), Shared by Watauga County Public Library

“As a Reference Librarian at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone, North Carolina, I was fortunate to have been present when, with the help of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, our institution became first involved with historic preservation and digitization. A local group called Historic Boone wished to bequeath the historic images which their group had gathered, described, and cared for over several decades into the caretaking of our library, some ten years ago. Our then-County Librarian accepted the items and made a space for them. I was privileged at about the same time to attend a North Carolina Library Association annual conference presentation in which Nick Graham and Lisa Gregory of the University of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina presented on the ways that small public libraries and other institutions with limited resources might take some small steps towards preservation, scanning, and digitized sharing of materials within their collections which hold historical significance. This led us to a few small first attempts, including a blog-format web site with a few, piecemeal, scanned images. The offer of off-site digitization by the NC Digital Heritage Center which was additionally presented at this conference eventually led our library to transport the entire photograph archives of the Historic Boone society to the University of North Carolina to be digitized and shared online via

“The wide-spread community interest engendered by this undertaking and by the readily-accessible web presence was followed by the successful application by our new Regional Director for an EZ Digitization grant funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The NC Digital Heritage Center provided invaluable support, advice, and encouragement as we used this generous funding opportunity to purchase scanning and computing equipment and to fund a year-long temporary part-time position for a digitization technician. Our community was fortunate at this time to have a historian, Dr. Eric Plaag, move to our area and immediately begin actively and tirelessly working with our town, our library, and the local historical society on a number of projects involving preservation and dissemination of historical material. With his generously-volunteered expert advice, the steps which we had undertaken thanks to the NC Digital Heritage Center have now taken root and grown into a locally-based initiative, Digital Watauga, which is a cooperative venture between the Watauga County Historical Society and the Watauga County Public Library. Other local organizations, including the Junaluska Heritage Association, representing our county’s oldest historically African American community, and numerous interested individuals, have contributed to making this new and growing effort a success, on behalf of all of our area’s people. It was only through the expertise, assistance, and support of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center that any of this work ‘left the ground’! As just one small portion – perhaps the small, rugged, mountainous, Northwestern portion – of the vast array of resources which have been preserved and shared by NC Digital heritage – the strides which we have made in saving and sharing our local history are a testament to the greater work which this institution has done throughout our state, an effort which extends far beyond our local area and our state’s boundaries. I cannot highly enough express my appreciation, personally and as a community member, and I sincerely and heartily endorse the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center as a perfect exemplar of the ideas and ideals which are recognized by the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service.”

Partners Share Their Stories: UNC Charlotte

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Dawn Schmitz, Associate Dean for Special Collections & University Archives at UNC Charlotte. We’ve worked with UNC Charlotte to digitize campus publications as well as, most recently, Q-Notes (mentioned and linked below). They have their own robust and growing digital collections site, which includes among other things motorsports photographs, papers documenting key figures in Charlotte history, and oral histories. Dawn’s comments are shared here today with permission.

Article text with rainbow colored picture of Charlotte skyline.

Front page article from the April 26, 2003 issue of Q-Notes.

“For several years, Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte has been working with partners in the Charlotte LGBTQ community to preserve and share their history. In 2015, Jim Yarbrough’s Pride Publishing agreed to donate to the library the entire run of Q-Notes, their high-quality and groundbreaking newspaper. We assured Jim we would do everything possible to have it digitized for the benefit of the Q-Notes staff and the entire community. But in the ensuing years, we found we were not able to raise the funding and did not have the staff to do the project in-house. We worried that we would let down the community that put their trust in us. Then, last year, NCDHC came to the rescue! When their call went out for collections to digitize that document traditionally underrepresented communities in our state, I answered it immediately to nominate Q-Notes. I think the answer “yes” came back  within 5 minutes! The digitization started right away, beginning with the first issue in 1986, when Q-Notes began publishing. As of this writing, nearly all issues have been digitized and made available on DigitalNC. Q-Notes frequently blogs to update readers as more issues have been digitized, and NCDHC has also written fabulous blog posts about Q-Notes that really capture its value for LGBTQ history. We are thrilled that this resource is being provided to the community open access, and we are so grateful to both NCDHC and Pride Publishing for making this possible. Too often, valuable resources such as Q-Notes end up behind paywalls and are essentially available only to a limited academic readership. And while Q-Notes is a treasure-trove for scholarly research about Southern queer history, it’s also vital to the broader community’s understanding of its past, including LGBTQ youth. We appreciate NCDHC and congratulate them on a well-deserved nomination for this prestigious award!”

Partners Share Their Stories: Ocracoke Preservation Society’s Past President

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Philip Howard, past president of the Ocracoke Preservation Society. The materials we’ve worked with OPS to digitize have helped the Society’s ongoing efforts at historic preservation. 

Page includes the text "Have Fun! Fish! Hunt! Sail! Swim! Camp! Ride! Dance! Eat! Sleep! Relax!" along with photographs of people engaging in fishing and other oceanside activities.

“As a chronicler of Ocracoke Island history [through his blog and newsletter] and one of the founders and a past president of the Ocracoke Preservation Society,  I am acutely aware of the importance of access to historic documents for research. The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center has digitized and placed on their web site numerous letters, brochures, booklets, photographs, and newspaper articles relevant to Ocracoke Island. These important documents are now readily available for anyone interested in Ocracoke’s history. In addition to being used in research for magazine & newspaper articles and books, they have played an important role in providing supporting documentation for the preservation of several homes and other significant structures in Ocracoke’s historic district.

One specific effort is the Society’s work on behalf of the Island Inn. A local group is hoping to purchase the property to protect it for the future and open it up for community use. Resources digitized and available on have helped them document that building’s known and hidden history.